Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The best idea for a Tampa Bay Rays stadium might be a joint effort

Here's what we do. We dredge up a new island smack in the middle of Tampa Bay. We run an exit ramp to it off the Howard Frankland Bridge.

And there's where we build a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, with both the Hillsborough and Pinellas sides chipping in.

Heck, this should cost only a couple of billion extra. Maybe we can get the feds to call it a "stimulus" project.

Don't like the island scheme? Okay, here's Plan B.

We settle on the best spot in Pinellas County for a new stadium, and the best spot in Hillsborough. Again, both sides sign a deal in advance saying they will chip in.

Then we meet in the middle of the Howard Frankland — and flip a coin.

Both of these fantasies involve a multicounty effort. Heck, why stop there? Let's get some dough from Pasco, Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota, too.

If that sounds crazy, well, it's only crazy by Tampa Bay standards. That kind of regional cooperation is normal in some places.

Why shouldn't it be? Sports teams have regional identity. They provide regional benefits. A team's fan base doesn't stop at a county line.

But here, we go it alone. Raymond James Stadium or the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa are "ours" (if you live in Hillsborough) and Tropicana Field is "theirs." Or vice versa. I didn't hear many people in Pinellas crying out to help pay for a Bucs stadium or a Lightning arena, nor many in Tampa for baseball in St. Petersburg.

If we build a stadium at all, the main issues of course are: (1) Where? (2) Who pays for it?

A couple of things happened last week that fired up this discussion. The first was lackluster attendance at what was expected to be a marquee showdown between the Rays and their rivals in last year's World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies.

In a rare shot across the public's bow, the Rays pronounced themselves "bewildered" at the lukewarm showing. Critics crowed that it was proof St. Petersburg is not "a baseball city" and the team should be moved to Tampa.

I dunno. The top AL East rivals draw pretty well, don't they? Maybe the World Series rematch just didn't have the allure the Rays had hoped for. Overall attendance is up 23 percent for the year so far; doesn't that count?

As if on cue, the Phillies series was followed by the news that the private-sector committee studying a new stadium, A Baseball Community, is considering three sites in Hillsborough as well as downtown St. Petersburg and mid Pinellas.

So, what happens if the group recommends a site outside of St. Petersburg? Will that city vow to fight? If the site is in mid Pinellas, will the county rush to foot the bill? If it's Hillsborough, will the city and county leaders there eagerly embrace the idea of being on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars?

I still think that this process will, by default, result either in a mid Pinellas site, more easily accessible to Hillsborough, or will end up back in downtown St. Petersburg. But under our go-it-alone model, the people of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County will bear all the financial burden again for a regional sports franchise — unless Tampa and Hillsborough, just because they are such nice guys, offer to chip in anyway. Riiight.

That island in the middle of the bay is starting to look better.

The best idea for a Tampa Bay Rays stadium might be a joint effort 06/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 4:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. John Morgan 'prepared to invest $100M' in medical marijuana

    State Roundup

    John Morgan spent nearly $7 million pushing two statewide ballot initiatives to expand medical marijuana throughout the state of Florida.

    Personal injury lawyer John Morgan says he's ready to invest $100 million in medical marijuana. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Avalos gets life in prison for killing Bradenton neighbor, pastor

    Crime

    BRADENTON — A Florida man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a neighbor and a local pastor.

    Andres "Andy" Avalos has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a neighbor and a local pastor. 

[File photo from Manatee County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Manchester police hunt for accomplices; Islamic State group claims responsibility for blast

    Public Safety

    MANCHESTER, England — Investigators hunted Tuesday for possible accomplices of the suicide bomber who attacked an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22 people and sparking a stampede of young concertgoers, some still wearing the American pop star's trademark kitten ears and holding pink balloons.

    Emergency services work at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured.  [Peter Byrne | PA via AP]
  4. Why's Pam Bondi raising money? Not to run for office, she says.

    Blogs

    Term-limited Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi may have restarted her political fundraising, but she says she's not considering a run for another public office.

    Attorney General Pam Bondi
  5. Roommates in Tampa Palms slaying case never outgrew Nazi sympathies, friend says

    Crime

    TAMPA — Like most people, Watson Fincher was shocked to hear that a neo-Nazi turned jihadi stands accused of killing his two Tampa Palms roommates — and that a fourth roommate told federal agents he, too, was a neo-Nazi, had bomb materials and was planning to target infrastructure.

    Authorities investigating a double murder Friday in the Hampton at Tampa Palms complex found explosives and bomb-manking materials in an apartment there. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times]